As drug overdose deaths soar, advocates fight uphill battle – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2020-11-19 07:00:09 –

Milwaukee County has already surpassed the record high of 418 drug overdose deaths in 2019, and it seems a natural conclusion to reach 500 this year. (File photo by Edgar Mendes)

Amy Molinski’s work day begins with a daunting task.

Peer support specialist at West Allis Community Medical Services arrives weekly at the fire department on the south side of Milwaukee to see a list of individuals who survived a drug overdose the day before or over the weekend.

Then she and the peer specialist Project WisHope And CleanSlate MilwaukeeAlong with Milwaukee Fire Department personnel, they went out to the streets with the goal of connecting those individuals to treatment and recovery services that could save their lives.

These specialists Milwaukee Overdose Initiative, Also known as MORI, it is a partnership between the Milwaukee Health Department and the Milwaukee Fire Department.

“We’re knocking on the door and seeing how many people are opening the door and asking for our help,” Morinsky said.

Launched in June 2019 and funded by a grant from MORI National Association of County and City Health OfficialsPlace a quick response team in your home or hospital, hoping that overdose people are scared enough to try to change.

“In reality, they need more than just being brought back,” Morinsky said. “We are there to offer the best options based on their situation, and if they are ready for help, we give them a direct ride to treatment. . “

Those who are not ready for treatment are connected to other resources such as needle exchange programs and HIV testing. The overall goal of the program is to reduce deaths from overdose and the use of emergency departments and increase access to evidence-based treatment.

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Family not left behind

In addition to servicing individuals who survived drug overdose, the MORI program could also serve the families of those who died, according to Milwaukee Health Department grant specialist Courtney Geiger. I can do it. The social worker is currently working full-time at the coroner’s office, reviewing cases and providing resources to the victim’s family.

“Maybe it was the spouse or father who suffered the fatal overdose, and the mother survived and became pregnant,” Geiger said.Crisis service She added that it was offered to children who lost their parents or witnessed a fatal overdose.

Leaders of the MORI program and other initiatives to reduce deaths from drug overdose are in an increasingly fierce battle. According to the data provided by Karen Domagalski Milwaukee County Medical Inspector OfficeFrom January 1st to October 17th, 2020, 408 deaths from drug overdose were confirmed, and an additional 67 suspicious cases await toxicological reports. The county probably already surpassed the record high of 418 drug overdose deaths in 2019, and it seems a natural conclusion to reach 500 this year.

“The prediction of death this year is pretty disastrous,” Aldo said.Michael Murphy, Chairman City-County Heroin, Opioid, and Cocaine Task Force.. He has linked this year’s fatal overdose increase to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve heard a lot about depression and mental health resources not being available to people because of COVID, which exacerbates the problem,” he said.

Although there is no specific data link between COVID-19 and the increase in deaths from overdose in Milwaukee County this year, the pandemic adversely affected the mental health of many individuals and increased quarantine. Both are recipes for recurrence.

Take a closer look at the tough numbers

According to a summary of unpublished overdose data provided by the Milwaukee Health Department, the number of deaths from drug overdose in the county has risen from 149 in 2010 to 401 in 2017 and 418 last year, the last 10 It has increased significantly over the year.

Of the 408 victims identified so far this year, 69% were men, according to data from the coroner’s office. The majority were white (58%), but 28% of the victims were black and 9.5% were Hispanic. In addition, seven Native Americans died from overdose. 8 A multi-ethnic individual and two Asian / Pacific islanders also died from overdose.

When classified by the total population in the county, The victims of overdose per 10,000 inhabitants were about the same for whites (22 per 10,000) and blacks (21 per 10,000), compared to 12 per 10,000 Hispanics.

The South Side is still a hotspot for drug overdose in the city, with 53215 zip codes losing 33 residents due to overdose and 28 deaths at 53204. Milwaukee had several other zip code areas with more than 20 fatal drug overdose, including 53206 and 53207, 21, and 53212, 26, respectively.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that claims to be commonly used as a cleaving agent for cocaine and other drugs, was responsible for nearly three-quarters of deaths. Data also showed that combinations of multiple drugs were more commonly described as the cause of death.

“You almost overdose killed you.”

With the county Wisconsin Medical College and Froed Tart Hospital And other partners are working on another initiative to reduce deaths from drug overdose, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Department Vice Chairman of the City-County Heroin, Opioid, and Cocaine Task Force.

Its efforts, supported by federal opioid response grants, include similar swift efforts to reach those brought to Froed Tart after suffering from drug overdose.

“that is “A positive attempt to tell people that” you had an overdose that almost killed you, “Rappen said. “‘Go outside and ask for help.'”

The county, in cooperation with orthodontic clinics such as Franklin, We also support programs aimed at reducing deaths from overdose of imprisoned people. The program includes participation in a treatment program, voluntary injections of vivitrol to block the effects of opioids, and follow-up services at the time of release, Rappen said.

Reason for hope

As her Morinsky travels to the Ford Taurus, which has been renamed as a community ambulance. The harsh reality of the situation in Milwaukee County affects her work.

“”Of course, if you stop and look at the data alone, you’ll be overwhelmed, “she said.

But these numbers don’t capture the many successes they’ve experienced since June, she said. One day she said she could persuade the three to be treated. That’s enough for Morinsky, who describes her work as the best in the world.

“What keeps us moving is knowing how many people would otherwise have been dead.”

7 places where you can get help

Pharmacotherapy services in the Milwaukee area are available at (and others) at:

10th Avenue Comprehensive Treatment Center

Rogers Behavioral Health

West Milwaukee Comprehensive Treatment Center

First Step Community Recovery Center

Meta House

West Alice Community Medical Services

United Community Center

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